ESTDOCS keeps getting better by quantum leaps and this year is no exception. It also went travelling from Tartu College, first to the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto (behind Trinity College and Varsity Stadium), and then to the Ontario Science Centre for the gala showing. Both moves were justified, made to accommodate larger crowds. The volunteers, of whom there was a legion, were operating like a well-oiled machine.
GREETINGS FROM SOVIET ESTONIA 52 min prod. Kiur Aarma (moderator of ESTDOCS 2007). Dir. Urmas E. Liiv.
This story is about three dissidents, Lagle Parek, Tunne Kelam and Tiit Madisson and their outlooks as well what has become of them now. The one major comment by Madisson, that things haven't really changed, before we were under the state, now we are under the finance companies, didn't make much sense. The food, housing, cars, travel, education and generally the freedom of movement should amount for something. Aarma's explanation that outwardly things have changed but inwardly they are the same didn't help either.
VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN 52 min. prod. Enda Lehtmets, dir. Edvard Oja.
This film shows life in a small village of 150 people, picturing everybody from the local alcoholics and their relationship with the storekeeper, the large farm owner lady, farmhands, minister and businessman (I hope I didn't leave out anybody.). Though it wasn't slick, it was interesting.
ALBERTA ESTONIANS 30 min. prod. Polar Bear Entertainment Inc./Alberta Estonian Heritage Society.
A very professionally made film starting with events in 1899 with the arrival of the Kingsep brothers and the subsequent waves of immigration that settled in three areas of Alberta. It also follows a descendant of the original Kingsep family as he travels to Estonia. The film has left out the politics of the different groups of Estonians. The hard work that carved the farms out of barren land was the hallmark of the Alberta Estonians.
LIFE STORIES 29 min. prod. Rao Heidmets, dir. Rao Heidmets.
An animated amalgamation of several biographies ranging from the 1920-2004 telling a tragic story(ies) in a lighter vein (if at all possible). The director of ESTDOCS, Ellen Valter is involved, but I couldn't see her at all.
BRONZE NIGHT: THE RUSSIAN RIOT IN TALLINN 45 min. Prod. Kanal 2, dir. Urmas E. Liiv.
A piece of recent Estonian tragic history, the riots in Tallinn, when the Bronze Soldier, the Soviet monument erected in the late forties in the middle of Tallinn was moved to the military cemetery. The story was in balance but leaving out much of the riots in Moscow in front of the Estonian Embassy the cyber-wars component when the Russians had been found guilty of stopping the internet service in Estonia, which was of great interest. An interesting point that was mentioned in the tele-film was how the Russians would riot only when the cameras were there but stop almost immediately the moment they left. The film/situation kept everyone enthralled.
THE SINGING REVOLUTION 90 min. prod. and dir. James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty.
This was the gala performance of the ESTDOCS festival shown at the Ontario Science Centre in high definition. The guest of note was the first Estonian prime minister Mart Laar who was part of the great song festival of 1988. "Actually I was very much part of the event (song festival), it was not necessary to organize it. It sort of happened by itself. It was a feeling that one would never forget. I was one of the leaders of the Heritage Foundation who was involved with the raising of the (Estonian) flag," said Laar.
The story was not just of the singing revolution but also of the centuries of Estonian slavery. It was professionally executed (narrated by Academy Award winner Linda Hunt, who received the best supporting actress Oscar in 1983 for her role in The Year of Living Dangerously) and it took four years to complete plus there weere many months of research that provided significant material which couldn't be used.
Out of town readers who want to see this documentary are advised to go to www.thesingingrevolution.com on the internet and sign in. A cinema could be rented for a showing in your community to show this film.
Needless to say this is the definitive work to date about the Estonian Holocaust.
The rest of the films at the festival will be reviewed next week.
The third ESTDOCS: first half reviews (3)